NEW YORK (Oct. 28)
President Reagan brought his re-election campaign to a synagogue in North Woodmere, Long Island last Friday where he donned a yarmulka emblazoned with the White House Presidential seal and unleashed a stinging attack on the Democratic Party for failing to adopt a resolution at its national convention condemning anti-Semitism.
Noting that the Republican Party at its convention in Dallas last August adopted a resolution as part of its political platform which condemned anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry, Reagan told an enthusiastic audience in Temple Hillel that the Democratic Party “couldn’t find the moral courage or leadership to pass a similar resolution.” Two weeks after the convention, the Democratic Party adopted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.
“Forgive me, but I think they owe you an explanation,” Reagan asserted. “What has happened to them? Why, after the issue became so prominent during the primaries did the Democratic leadership walk away from their convention without a resolution condemning this insidious cancer?”
Reagan’s campaign stop at Temple Hillel, whose spiritual leader, Rabbi Morris Friedman, is president of the New York Board of Rabbis, a coalition of the three major branches of Judaism, was part of a campaign swing through the tri-state area. He also appeared at rallies in Hackensack, New Jersey, and Fairfield, Conn.
The President’s stop in North Woodmere, which is situated along the Queens-Nassau County border, was applauded and assailed at the same time by congregation members. Opponents criticized the use of a house of worship for a political rally, suggesting the injection of religion into the political campaign.
Others viewed the appearance less than two weeks before the election as an endorsement of Reagan’s re-election. But Friedman dismissed the criticisms. “We’re talking about the most powerful man in the free world. I consider this a non-political rally. It’s a historic honor. I’d like my grandchildren to remember that we entertained the President,” he declared.
In his speech in the synagogue which was interrupted by applause and cheers of “Four more years, four more years,” Reagan assailed Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale and attacked the Carter Administration for what he claimed was its failure to stand strongly behind Israel.
He praised Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick as a “tenacious watchdog” who has defended Israel at the United Nations and he contrasted her “force and determination” with an incident in March, 1980 when the U.S. Ambassador to the UN voted in favor of a resolution condemning Israel.
A SURPRISING CLAIM
Of considerable interest was Reagan’s claim that he had sent American troops to Beirut in 1983 to prevent another Holocaust of Jews. “Anyone who remembers the lesson of the Holocaust must understand that we have a fundamental moral obligation to assure: Never again.”
This was the first time that Reagan said he had ordered the marines into Beirut to prevent another Holocaust, political analysts noted. When the Adminstration reintroduced the marines into Beirut in 1983, the move was described as an effort to prevent the slaughter of Palestinians by Lebanese Christians and to help the govemment of President Amin Gemayel.
The President also criticized those “who would cripple America’s defense rebuilding program” and who would “undermine the security of our closest friends like Israel.” Reagan also affirmed his commitment to civil rights and the separation of church and state. “We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief,” he declared.
Afterwards Reagan was the guest at Friedman’s house for a 50-minute, early traditional sabbath meal, prepared by Friedman’s wife, Addi. Attending the meal were Friedman’s three children, their spouses, the spouses’ parents, White House Chief of Staff James Baker and Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R.NY).
Mrs. Friedman, who said she “didn’t do anything different than I usually do for Shabbos, but I fussed a bit more” for the President, served a meal consisting of a fruit cup, followed by stuffed chicken cutlets with apricot nuddle pudding and shredded salad. For desert, she served a chocolate date nut cake and an apple crumb cake.